The Corner

Win: Hillary

I’ve recently read a fair bit of punditry claiming that if the White House threw Secretary of State Clinton “under the bus” by pinning the fiasco in Benghazi on her, Bill, brilliant strategist that he is, would push her to quit, leaving President Obama exposed and keeping her out of the coming electoral debacle.

After Hillary stepped up and “took responsibility” for the security failure that led to four American deaths, specifically stipulating that the White House could not be expected to have knowledge of security arrangements at the hundreds of U.S. outposts around the world, the general tone has changed slightly. Some, notably Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post, regard this as yet another example of Hillary being a “doormat” — this time for Obama, last time for her husband. Others wonder why she would bail out the president and VP at this late date.

Actually, by being the one person in the administration to take responsibility for Benghazi, Hillary won this round of power politics handily. Taking responsibility (even if it’s a little late) is what leaders do. We are thus left with a clear picture of a powerful woman with the younger, weaker president and crazy uncle V.P. Joe hiding behind her skirts. The administration looks considerably worse than it would have if it had just accepted blame for the incident. Hillary exists stage right, personal power intact.

But the story is far from over. The reason Hillary’s win is so enormous is that the failure to protect Ambassador Stephens was serious, but it is not the real reason that Benghazi-gate is fast becoming a Watergate-like scandal. A security failure leading to a death is a big deal, but it is not, in itself, a piece of political malfeasance. The scandal, as always, is in the cover-up: The lies, evasions, and deliberate attribution of blame for the incident to an obscure movie, made by an (Egyptian Coptic immigrant) American, came straight out of the White House. U.N. ambassador Susan Rice lied for her patrons in the West Wing, not for anyone at State, or CIA or anywhere else. The deliberate lies were intended to hide the very clear fact that, despite President Obama’s boasts, al-Qaeda and its relatives are alive and well, committing terrorism and killing official Americans at will. And intentional deception of the American people for the sake of winning an election is a big scandal indeed.

Hillary Clinton’s “I take responsibility” was in no way a mea culpa for the real scandal, the cover-up and weeks of ensuing lies. That story does not go away. It sticks. The truth will continue to dribble out, bit by bit, wearing away any sense that the Obama White House might have handled both the War on Terror and the Arab Spring effectively, and making it clear that President Obama and his political operatives went to great lengths to deceive Americans for. Whichever clever strategist decided that Hillary Clinton should take the rap was too clever by half.

— Lisa Schiffren is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum.

Most Popular

Culture

Jussie Smollett Jokes Declared Off-Limits

The Jussie Smollett story has been declared not fit for jokes. "It's a straight-up tragedy," declares the co-creator of a Comedy Central show, South Side, set in Chicago. Bashir Salahuddin, a former Jimmy Fallon writer, says “The whole situation is unfortunate. Particularly for the city, there’s bigger ... Read More
U.S.

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More
Film & TV

The Movies Take On Limbaugh, Levin, et al.

Oh, good, here’s the lefty British comic Steve Coogan to give us his take on American right-wing talk radio. Let’s all settle in for some deep insights. The comedy-drama is dismally titled Hot Air. No, seriously. That’s what they came up with. Coogan’s Lionel Macomb is introduced to us via his ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Ignorant Comments on Israel

Making the click-through worthwhile: figuring out what President Trump meant when he said Jews who vote for Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”; examining the data on how American Jews actually feel about Israel; and why Democrats will always find a way or a reason to avert ... Read More